2007 Olympa Men’s Preview

2007 Olympa Men’s Preview
Written by Flex Wheeler

You hear it all the time:This show is going to be the greatest ever! Year after year, it never fails. Thats what they said last year, and I have to admit, they must have been psychic. Last years show was a genuine thriller. Jay Cutler did the impossible and beat a Mr. Olympia gunning for a record-breaking ninth title. That milestone victory did more than prove that yes, a repeat champ an eight-time repeat champ, no less could be taken out in the midst of his reign. It hadnt been done since Arnold ended the great Sergio Olivas Olympia reign at three back in 1970 (Im not counting Haney beating Samir in 84, as the latter wasnt even close).

Jays momentous win also set the stage for this years battle. I talked to Ronnie moments after his defeat and boy was he on fire to get his title back. There was no way that Big Brubba was going out like that! As much as we dont like to see a contest turned into a two-man show, theres no denying that the Jay-Ronnie rematch is a headliner you cant ignore. But a lot of developments have come to the surface since last September. For one, the man who got third, Victor Martinez who many felt could have been higher captured this years Arnold Classic in convincing fashion against very tough opposition. Dexter Jackson, the man who he beat for top honors, is aching to set things right for himself. Add to that Toney Freeman, with his Iron Man and Sacramento wins and his third place at the Arnold. Of course, you cant discount Melvin Anthony, Gustavo Badell and the young Phil Heath. You can start calling me Flex Nostradamus Wheeler, because I foresee one barn-burning, boot-stomping blowout at the 2007 Olympia this September in Vegas. Let it ride!

Eddie Abbew
270 pounds
Eddie snagged his Olympia rights with a strong third place at the Iron Man. Hes got a complete physique, with no standouts or glaring omissions. Hes proven he can get in shape, so well see how he stands up to this caliber of competition.

Melvin Anthony
240-245 pounds
2006: Fifth Place
2005: Seventh Place
2003: Ninth Place
Melvin came through last year with his highest placing ever. What should have been a momentum-building year turned into an injury-nursing year, as The Marvelous One has been less than 100 percent, health wise. But I look for him to be at full strength come September, where his flowing physique and fine proportions displayed beautifully in his entertaining and jaw-dropping routines always bring the fans to their feet. Melvin will have to be dialed in to the wire to improve on his placing of last year with the talent of this lineup.

Gustavo Badell
245 pounds
2006: Sixth Place
2005: Third Place
2004: Third Place
2002: 24th Place
The Freakin Ricans level of success over the last year has fallen a bit from its previous lofty height, but this is one determined and hungry beast. He proved as much at this years Arnold, where he scratched and clawed his way up to fourth place, overtaking the talented Phil Heath in the process. Gustavo always turns it up a notch for the Olympia, so I know hes dying to rectify last years sixth-place finish. Hes thick from head to toe and if he can bring the tight conditioning weve come to expect, he will definitely move back into the inner circle.

Darrem Charles
225 pounds
2006: 14th Place
2005: Ninth Place
2004: 10th Place
2003: Seventh Place
2002: 16th Place
2001: 18th Place
1998: 13th Place
1995: 15th Place
DC is making yet another Olympia appearance against the youngsters of the sport. Darrem is a champions champion, always respectful and dignified, whether things are going his way or not, which is the true hallmark of a champ. This year, at the time of this writing, he has yet to capture a title (a rare event for him), but look for him to come on full blast. Hes got great shape and conditioning, with one of the tightest, highly detailed midsections. Dont go toe to toe with size, DC. Stick to your guns!

Ronnie Coleman
295-300 pounds
2006: Second Place
Mr. Olympia, 1998-2005
So much has been written about this man and for good reason he is the greatest bodybuilder in the history of the sport. Even his nemesis will concede that point. Ronnies done it all. He defeated me, Shawn, Chris and Kevin. He kept Jay at bay for years. Through it all, hes raised the bar to unimaginable heights. Ronnie in the early 90s was competing in the 260s with a tiny waist and sick conditioning. His back is legendary, easily one of the best if not the best ever. He had a couple of scares, but in 2003, he unveiled a 287-pound monstrosity that I still feel is his best ever. Last year, he opened the door just enough for an insatiable Cutler to steal his crown. He was a bit watery and suspect lat and triceps diminished his usually overpowering physique. For the first time since I was witness to his imposing shadow covering the stage, he just didnt have it from the back. The ungodly thickness, width and intricate detail just werent there. If Ronnie is to pull a Muhammad Ali and regain his throne, he will have to show up with all the tools that have become synonymous with the Coleman dynasty. Im sure he will bring his trademark striated glutes, but he must be drier than hes been in awhile, especially throughout the back. Once youve been Mr. Olympia, nothing less is acceptable and at 43 years young, hes still as determined as ever to win back what he views as rightfully his. More than anything in the world, he wants to be Mr. Olympia again and go down in history as the undisputed greatest ever. We know what can happen when you piss off Ronnie, so I cant wait to see what he brings this September.

Jay Cutler
274 pounds
2006: First Place
2005: Second Place
2004: Second Place
2003: Second Place
2001: Second Place
2000: Eighth Place
1999: 14th Place
What can I say about this man? Jay is all about determination and will. He never gave up, even when he tied Kevin Levrone for the most ever runner-up finishes at the Olympia (although thats quite an achievement when youre on the receiving end, its not nearly as sweet as it sounds believe me). It seemed that Ronnie would set the record and Jay would have to wait for Coleman to retire before laying claim to a Sandow of his own. No, not this warrior; Jay kept bringing it, time and time again, undaunted by his failure to capture the crown. He tried more size and when that didnt work, he went for extreme conditioning. Finally, last year, he hit on the winning combination that could not be denied and I think that will be the defining factor for Jay. At this point, hes got enough size to contend with Ronnie. He will need to be very hard and crisp, too. In the past, hes sacrificed fullness for extreme conditioning and this could be a mistake, as Jays shortcomings become magnified if hes slightly flat. He needs to be full and hard, with plenty of detail. Head to head against Ronnie, Jays weapons are his abs and thigh shot and his rear double biceps pose (formerly Ronnies ace in the hole). Last year, he was thicker and harder from the back and many felt it snatched him the statue. Its his first title defense and popular opinion is that your first defense is the hardest. This year, if he can bring that same combination with even more detail, he stands a good chance of keeping that Sandow in Vegas, just like he promised last year.

Mark Dugdale
210 pounds
Mark is making his Olympia debut and it couldnt have happened to a nicer guy. Hes got a nice, balanced physique with crazy, cross-striated quads and shredded hams, glutes and calves. His upper body and arms continue to improve, so well see what kind of package he brings in September.

Toney Freeman
290 pounds
2006: Seventh Place
Heres an athlete who defies classification. On the one hand, hes got beautiful shape on a superb structure, complete with tiny joints and billowing muscle bellies. Yet, hes got plenty of size and thickness, especially when you factor in his 6’2 frame. Toneys had a breakthrough season, winning the first two shows of the year handily and staying in the thick of things at a tightly contested Arnold. If he can tighten up his hams and glutes and bring more detail to his back, he will be hard to dismiss. Also, hes probably got the best wheels weve seen on a tall man since the monstrous Paul Dillet.

Marcus Haley
240 pounds
Haleys Comet missed his streak across the Olympia skies last year, but this year hell be flying across the Orleans arena, thanks to much improvement to his contest conditioning. Marcus was full and tight this year, and hell need to bring all that to light up the Vegas skyline.

Phil Heath
215 pounds
This kid is just waiting to explode and make his presence undeniable. He was great in his rookie year, showcasing sparkling conditioning and fullness. This year, he went up against the very top competition and more than held his own. With Phil, its just a matter of size and time. He simply needs a little more of both to add thickness, especially to his back, chest and even his legs to be an over-the-top threat. Though he sat out last year, I think he should really throw his two cents in this time. It will be a good experience for him and hell know just how close he is to shaking up the world.

Dexter Jackson
230 pounds
2006: Fourth Place
2004: Fourth Place
2003: Third Place
2002: Fourth Place
2001: Eighth Place
2000: Ninth Place
1999: Ninth Place
The Blade keeps coming back against the trend, harder and harder. The standard bearer for the shape athlete, Dexter brings a nearly flawless physique to the stage that many feel should be the epitome of bodybuilding. Hes been as high as third, and with the loss of his cherished Arnold crown, look for him to make a strong showing at the Olympia. Dexters a fighter and he will bring his fine arsenal of weapons to the party. His great size and balance, coupled with his otherworldly condition, may be enough to topple the big boys.

Dennis James
260-270 pounds
2006: Ninth Place
2005: Sixth Place
2004: Eighth Place
2003: Fourth Place
2005: 10th Place
2001: Seventh Place
2000: 11th Place
The Menace has not had a good year, thus far. He just missed grabbing his second pro title to Branch Warren at the New York Pro and then mistimed his peak badly to fall to eighth at the Colorado Pro. Dennis is a terrifying bodybuilder with tons of beef hanging off the bone. The only problem is that he has a hell of time translating it to the stage. Ive seen this guy look phenomenal backstage, only to lose it literally minutes before show time. Size is never a problem, but he will have to be full and dialed in when the curtain goes up to make the most of his imposing physique.

Victor Martinez
245-250 pounds
2006: Third Place
2005: Fifth Place
2004: Ninth Place
If anybody is looking to crash this two-man party, it?s got to be last years third-place finisher and this years Arnold Classic winner, Victor The Dominican Dominator Martinez. Prior to 06, Vic was all potential. He had it all, but just couldnt seem to put it together. Now thats a thing of the past, as hes proven that hes capable of consistently bringing a superlative package worthy of the sports biggest titles. Victor has the size and whats more, the shape and aesthetics that many feel have been lacking in recent years. He looks great from every angle, with excellent flow and proportion. Victor shouldnt play the size game with Ronnie and Jay, who both compete at well over 20-30 pounds his fighting weight, but instead rely on his structure, shape and detail. His back double biceps pose is the most detailed of the top men and he needs to use it to his advantage. He has to bring the striated glutes and be dry to capitalize on his gifts. Victor has also managed to conquer his personal demons, which plagued him in the past. If he can continue making improvements and be consistent, he could very well crash the party and record a tremendous upset.

Ronny Rockel
215 pounds
2006: 16th Place
2005: 17th Place
Ronny continues to do his thing quietly, but efficiently. Hes very complete and knows how to lock down that dry, grainy hardness. The problem for Ronny and some of the other shape guys is that they tend to get overlooked at this show. He will need to be on to avoid that fate and crack the top 10.

Markus Ruhl
285 pounds
2006: Eighth Place
2005: 15th Place
2004: Fifth Place
2002: Eighth Place
2001: 14th Place
The Freakazoid made a roaring comeback last year to crack the top 10 and land in eighth place (much improved over 15th place a year previous). To many fans, Markus is bodybuilding. Theres no denying that this is his strength. I remember standing next to him onstage at the 99 Olympia, and let me tell you, the man is frightening. When he tries to come in lighter, the results are disastrous. If he can get a little drier and show deeper separation between his body parts as well as sharper detail, particularly to his back, hams and glutes, he can orchestrate a few upsets.

Silvio Samuel
200 pounds
The Marathon Man! Silvios been fifth (a couple of times), third and second all this year. Each show, hes been more or less on with great conditioning, shape and fullness to those impossibly round muscle bellies. Now under the tutelage of Charles Glass, look for an even more improved Silvio to show up in September to stir it up.

Sergey Shelestov
260 pounds
The big Russian made a lot of noise at last years Grand Prix Romania, but hasnt had the same success stateside. Hell need to bring up his upper body to match those insane wheels if he wants to make a dent at this level.

Vince Taylor
230 pounds
2006: 11th Place
2001: 13th Place
1995: Fifth Place
1992: Sixth Place
1991: Third Place
1989: Third Place
The In-Vince-able One! The Original Terminator is making his second appearance to the big dance since his return to the competitive stage. This time around, hes having fun and delighting the audience as he brings fabulous guns, delts and calves to a new generation of bodybuilding fans. Look for the Quiet Storm to erupt!

Dennis Wolf
265-270 pounds
2006: 16th Place
The Big Bad Wolf is huffing and puffing! Heres another guy full of promise who is really starting to cash in on untapped potential. The Wolf Man didnt fare too well last year, but Im certain hell rectify his last-place finish. Hes bigger and harder, with marvelous detail and structure. Hes got that tiny waist coupled with wide, wide shoulders for a dramatic effect onstage. Look for the Wolf to take a big bite out of the competition if he can come in as tight as or tighter than he did at the Keystone.

Hidetada Yamagishi
200 pounds
The first Japanese bodybuilder to stand on the Olympia stage! What an accomplishment. He was overlooked at the Iron Man, but came on strong a week later in Sacramento to make history. Hes thick from head to toe and gets remarkably hard and striated. Top 10 is within his grasp if he can bring it all together.

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